I do hate wasps. I’m not a science guy, so it’s probably no surprise that I cannot think of a single thing in nature that a wasp is good for. Unless they sting someone you hate, then you’ve got the hate voodoo working for you pretty good. Other than that a wasp is worth nothing, zip, nada.
I have a healthy respect for spiders and snakes. I don’t hate them, but I do know they have nature’s aura of “don’t touch” and although I don’t hate them, they can be annoying as hell sometimes. I know, they’re all part of the “circle of life” thing, but sometimes I think they try to annoy me on purpose.
They annoy me by being sneaky.
I have a spider on my back deck that has become my nemesis. He is an industrious little bastard and he works all through the night to build his web exactly over the area I have to walk through every day to clean the dog run. I get a face full of web and wonder if there’s a spider attached to it somewhere. After slapping myself silly and screaming like a ten-year-old girl, I calm down and make a vow that it will not happen the next day.
The next day: déjà vu.
Snakes do the same thing, but they’re not as predictable (even though being predictable is fairly lost on me). I have snakes all through my yard. They’re just little garden snakes. Or is it garter snakes? I’ve heard it pronounced both ways and have never been sure. Except that 'garden' makes more sense, because what woman in her right mind would wear one for a garter? Anyway, I digress…
I first started noticing the snakes while I was mowing the yard. They like to wait until that last possible moment when you’re about to step on them, then they wriggle out of the way. I catch movement out of the corner of my eye and jump up on the lawnmower screaming like a ten-year-old girl again. Once I’ve recognized what it is, I’m okay. It’s just that initial movement where you don’t expect movement to be.
I’ll be honest. I used to get a flash of anger when this happened and would reflexively bark over the snake with the mower. I’m kinder and gentler now. I now stand panting and work on getting my heart rate down as they slither away.
But once in awhile these aspects of nature work as great teaching tools –even for me who knows nothing about nature.
When we were cleaning out our backyard (previous house that sat on a rock pile) I heard a buzzing by me. I stopped clearing rock to listen, but it would stop. This happened a few times until I located the source. I picked up a rock from a pile and there was a wasp, caught in a Black Widow’s web (notice the capitalization there which is a sign of respect…or fear). The spider would move in for the kill and the wasp would buzz, turning it’s stinger towards the spider until it backed away again. The weird dance kept repeating.
I called my kids over to show them nature up close. Survival of the fittest. Darwin in action. I should have made a Nat-Geo film of it. The girls were about five and seven at the time and they watched on in wonder at the struggle. Finally, my oldest looked up at me.
“Who do you think will win, daddy?” she asked.
I picked up a rock and smashed the spider and the wasp with one blow.
“Man, honey,” I said. “Man always wins.”
We’re sneaky that way.